Insights Daily Current Events, 30 March 2016

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Insights Daily Current Events, 30 March 2016

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Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Uttarakhand HC orders floor test, allows disqualified MLAs to take part

The Uttarakhand High Court has ordered a floor test in the Vidhan Sabha and has also allowed disqualified MLAs to take part IN IT.

  • Harish Rawat, who was unseated from his post as chief minister, has been asked by the Court to test his majority on the floor of the House in a copybook interpretation of the S R Bommai judgment that for the first time permitted judicial review of the imposition of President’s rule.
  • The centre had recently imposed President’s rule in Uttarakhand citing a breakdown of constitutional authority.

What next?

The required magic number is 36. That is, the Rawat government must have at least 36 MLAs in a House of 70.

How would this order affect President’s rule in the state?

Since the high court did not pass any order on President’s rule, legal experts say the central rule in Uttarakhand would continue. Besides, the order is only a partial relief to Rawat, who had challenged the imposition of President’s rule.

  • This is only an interim order. The final decision of the high court would come only after the disposal of the petition by rebel MLAs challenging their disqualification by Speaker.

However, according to few others, the order temporarily revives the Assembly for one day for the sole purpose of conducting the trust vote, and may even appear to be a partial stay on the Proclamation imposing President’s rule — to the extent that it orders the convening of a suspended House.

Can the assembly function when President’s rule is in force?

According to clauses in Article 356 after the imposition of President’s Rule, the State legislature cannot function and all its functions can only be discharged by or under the authority of Parliament.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Centre gives nod for 100% FDI in e-commerce retail

The government has allowed 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) through the automatic route in the marketplace model of e-commerce retailing.

Details:

  • However, as per the guidelines issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on FDI in e-commerce, foreign direct investment has not been permitted in inventory-based model.
  • According to the guidelines, the e-commerce marketplace may provide support services to sellers in warehousing, and logistics., order fulfilment, call centre, payment collection and other services. However, such entities will not exercise ownership over the inventory.
  • According to the guidelines, any warranty/guarantee on goods and services sold will be responsibility of the seller, not the market place operator.
  • Also, an e-commerce firm will not be permitted to sell more than 25% of total sales from one vendor or its group companies.

These guidelines are expected to bring in more FDI into the sector that attracted maximum inflow of such investments in 2015.

What is Marketplace Model?

The marketplace model has been defined as providing an “information technology platform by an e-commerce entity on a digital and electronic network to act as a facilitator between buyer and seller.” Example – Amazon, Flipkart 

Inventory-based model:

An inventory-led model is defined as one where the e-commerce entity owns the inventory of goods and services and sells directly to consumers. Earlier Flipkart used to be inventory based e-commerce venture.

Implications:

This move could potentially end the discount wars, much to the disappointment of consumers. This is because the rules now prohibit marketplaces from offering discounts and capping total sales originating from a group company or one vendor at 25%. With this, online marketplaces will now not be allowed to directly or indirectly influence pricing of products and services on the platform.

  • This could, however, level the playing field with offline stores, which have witnessed a slump in footfalls corresponding to the increase in e-commerce.

Analysis:

The press note issued by the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) said 100% FDI via the automatic route would be allowed only for e-commerce players under the marketplace model, and not under the inventory led model. This means that companies such as Amazon and Alibaba can set up an online marketplace legally now where sellers can hawk their products. But the policy does not allow Amazon or Flipkart to become a seller.

What necessitated this policy?

So far, India has allowed 100% foreign investment in business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce but none in retail e-commerce—i.e., business-to-consumer, or B2C.

  • Even so, Indian e-commerce companies such as Flipkart and Snapdeal have been following the marketplace model—which was not defined—and attracting large foreign investments. Marketplaces essentially act as a platform connecting sellers and buyers.
  • This had led to allegations from time to time by brick-and-mortar stores that Indian e-commerce companies were flouting existing policy norms to gain an unfair advantage, given that the government does not allow FDI in multi-brand retail companies.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Haryana assembly unanimously passes Jat quota bill

The Haryana assembly has unanimously passed a bill to provide reservation to Jat and other communities.

  • The Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill, 2016, was passed by voice vote in the ongoing assembly session.

Details:

  • The bill provides reservation to the politically-dominant Jat community and four other communities — Jat Sikhs, Tyagis, Bishnois and Rors.
  • The bill will give statutory status to Backward classes Block ‘A’, Backward classes Block ‘B’ and Backward classes Block ‘C’ by enacting the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act, 2016.
  • The bill provides for increase in percentage of reservation in Schedule I, II and III for Class I and II posts for BC ‘A’, BC ‘B’ and BC ‘C’ from 10%, 5% and 5% to 11%, 6% and 6% respectively.
  • It has been also decided to increase the existing reservation of five percent for Economically Backward Persons in General Caste Category in Class I and II posts from five percent to seven percent.

The state has also requests the Central Government to include this Act in the 9th Schedule read with Article 31B of the Constitution of India.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Anti-lock braking system a must for two-wheelers

The government has made it compulsory for all two-wheelers, which account for the highest share of accidents in the country, to either have the anti-lock braking system (ABS) or the combined braking system (CBS) by April 2019.

Details:

  • Two-wheeler manufacturers will have to fit the equipment for the existing scooter or bike models available for sale in the market by that time, and for all new models they plan to introduce from April 2018.
  • For two-wheelers with an engine capacity above 125 cc, fitting the ABS will be compulsory and for those with capacities at or below 125 cc, auto manufacturers will have an option to provide either the ABS or CBS.
  • The cost of two-wheelers is likely to go up between Rs.4,000 and Rs.6,000 as a result of the new norms notified by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry.
  • The ABS, which helps riders maintain stability without skidding while applying the brake, will be mandatory for mopeds as well, which are typically bikes without gears.

Need for ABS in two-wheelers:

Two-wheelers are the most vulnerable among road users. According to official estimates, in 2014, 29.3%, (or about 40,000 users), of 1.39 lakh people killed on roads were two-wheeler users — the highest share followed by cars, jeeps and taxis and trucks and tempos.

  • At present, ABS needs to be compulsorily fitted in tractors carrying hazardous goods or liquid petroleum gas, double decked transport vehicles and buses that ply on All India Tourist permit.

ABS:

An anti-lock braking system or anti-skid braking system (ABS) is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (ceasing rotation) and avoiding uncontrolled skidding. It is an automated system that uses the principles of threshold braking and cadence braking which were practiced by skillful drivers with previous generation braking systems.

CBS:

A combined braking system (CBS), also called linked braking system (LBS), is a system for linking front and rear brakes on a motorcycle or scooter. In this system, the rider’s action of depressing one of the brake levers applies both front and rear brakes. The amount of each brake applied may be determined by a proportional control valve. The CBS distributes the pressure, applied on the rear wheel, to the front wheel minimising the possibility of a road accident.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: important international institutions.

Vodafone moves ICJ over tax arbitration with India

British telecom giant Vodafone has moved the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking appointment of a judge to preside over an arbitration over its Rs.14,200-crore tax case.

  • Vodafone moved ICJ after arbitrators appointed by it and the government of India failed to reach a consensus on selection of a neutral/presiding judge of the three-member panel.

Background:

The government had initially slapped a tax demand of Rs.7,990 crore on Vodafone for failing to deduct tax on capital gains made over its $11-billion acquisition of 67% stake in the mobile phone business owned by Hutchison Whampoa in 2007. However, recently the IT department sent a reminder notice to Vodafone seeking Rs.14,200 crore in tax and interest.

About ICJ:

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.

  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
  • Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
  • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
  • The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.

Jurisdiction:

  • As stated in the UN Charter, all 193 UN members are automatically parties to the Court’s statute. Non-UN members may also become parties to the Court’s statute. Once a state is a party to the Court’s statute, it is entitled to participate in cases before the Court. However, being a party to the statute does not automatically give the Court jurisdiction over disputes involving those parties.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday.

BEL-Thales joint venture to develop PHAROS fire control radar

Thales and BEL-Thales Systems Limited (BTSL), the joint venture between Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Thales, have signed a partnership agreement for the joint development of the PHAROS fire control radar.

Details:

  • This strategic co-operation partnership agreement will allow Thales and BTSL to jointly develop PHAROS, a fire control radar for both gun and missile systems.
  • This joint development will strengthen the co-operation of Thales and BTSL in the field of innovative technologies. The responsibility of overall system design will be borne by Thales.
  • BTSL will develop the mechanical design and radar processing modifications while Thales will be responsible for the design and production of the radar antenna. BTSL will carry out its share of the development work in Bengaluru.
  • This co-development agreement between Thales and BTSL is in line with the ‘Make in India’ vision of the Government of India.
  • The jointly developed PHAROS system will cater to both domestic Indian and international market requirements.

PHAROS:

PHAROS is an all-weather multi-target tracking radar that can be fitted on guns and missiles.

  • PHAROS provides defence against small, fast moving and highly manoeuvrable air and surface targets that may also be encountered in littoral missions.
  • The multiple target tracker is capable of simultaneously controlling — in all weather conditions — the engagement of these targets with guided ammunition.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.

Innovative Entrepreneurship & Skill Development Programme of MANAS launched

Dr. Najma Heptulla, the Union Minister for Minority Affairs recently launched innovative entrepreneurship and skill development programme of Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS)– through leading national/ international experts in different skill sets.

  • With this the Centre plans to skill the minority community members with speed, scale and standards across the country.

Details:

  • Under this unique and first time initiative, MANAS has come up with an innovative scheme under which it proposes to use leading celebrities in various skill sets as the driving force behind the skill development projects, in their respective fields, for the benefit of marginalised sections of minority communities.
  • There are a large number of leading experts in different trades/skill sets, who belong to Minority Communities. They are icons for youths all over the country particularly for minority communities, in their respective fields. MANAS plans to use them in making quality training available at one’s doorsteps.
  • Also, by this path-breaking initiative, Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA) can utilize vast potential of existing network of Madrasa and Maktabs (both in terms of reach and numbers) by opening Skill Development Centres in Madrasa with the consent of Madrasa.
  • Apart from bridging the trust deficit of the minority communities, MANAS will be able to provide door-step access to quality skill development training to marginalised sections of Minority communities particularly to women and girl child, for providing them gainful employment/self-employment.

About MANAS:

Maulana Azad National academy for Skills (MANAS) was established under the aegis of Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA) by National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) in November, 2014, in order to fulfil the vision of “Skill India” and also achieve the over-riding goal of the Government of India “SabkaSaath – SabkaVikas”. MANAS provides an institutional arrangement to meet all Skill Development/Up-gradation needs of the Minority communities in the country.

Sources: pib.


 

Facts for Prelims from “The Hindu”:

  • Renowned playback singer P. Susheela Mohan has been recognised by both the Guinness Book of World Records and Asia Book of Records for singing most number of songs in Indian languages. She has won many awards and earned accolades in a career spanning five decades. While Guinness Book of Records has officially credited her for singing 17, 695 songs (solo, duet and chorus backed songs) in twelve Indian languages, Asia Book of Records has recognised her for singing close to 17, 330 songs.
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide $848 million of funding for the development of solar parks across India. The government has set a target of 175 Gigawatts of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this 100 GW is to come from solar power. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has said that it plans to set up 25 solar parks with a total capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020.
  • Reliance Defence Ltd, a unit of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (R-Infra), and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd have agreed to set up a joint venture (JV) in the specialized areas of air-to-air missiles, air defence systems and large aerostats. The project will have an initial capital outlay of more than Rs.1,300 crore, excluding the cost of technology. Based on current requirement, the JV will address multiple programmes in India valued at more than Rs.65,000 crore over the next 10 years. It is one of the biggest between an Indian firm with any original equipment manufacturer. Reliance Defence will own 51% in the joint venture and the rest will be held by Rafael.
  • Researchers in Kerala have discovered the new plant species with botanical name Sonerila nairii, which comes under the family of Melasto mataceae. This rare plant species was discovered in the Pottumala region of the Nelliampathy forests in the Western Ghats. The plant species is enlisted in the critically endangered category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Each plant carries just two flowers. The plant grows in soil found in the gaps of rocks. The plant species is lithophytic and flowers during the October-November months in climatic regions with altitudes ranging above 1,200 metres above sea level.